Unless asked to do otherwise, my philosophy in massage and bodywork is to incorporate whichever modalities (styles of massage and bodywork) that you need in each session, so you will receive a little bit of everything. This cocktail is blended in such a way that most people cannot distinguish between the different modalities, and none of it should ever be painful. The goal is to have you walk away feeling both relaxed and revitalized.
Structural Integration works with the natural forces of gravity. Gravity is always with us, unrelenting, and like many aspects of this world it can either work with us or against us. If you look at the "structure" or posture of a small child, you may notice how easily the spine makes a straight but flexible line, how they bounce on their feet, how unaffected by gravity they seem. Then study someone much older, and you might notice the spine bent, the shoulders hunched, the knees bent. It almost looks like someone is pushing them down. That someone is actually something: gravity. As time goes by and we grow, we may sprain an ankle, or work many hours at a computer, or drive long shifts. Gravity is always present, and when the body is in alignment gravity flows through us quite easily, but once we develop a deviancy in posture and alignment (from a sprained ankle that never fully healed, for example) gravity pushes on that part of us out of alignment and makes it worse. More than that, something as simple as a sprained ankle can cause our entire body structure to be out of alignment, and the result can be massive pain in the shoulder due to that old sprained ankle. Structural Integration helps put you back into your optimal structural alignment, so you may live pain free. This is amazing for anyone with body pain, athletes trying to improve their game, or anyone with unexplained soreness of the body. This approach does not require the client to undress.
Massage Therapy: Swedish/Relaxation
Massage Therapy is the manipulation of soft tissues in the body. Massage is proven to greatly reduce stresses in the body, mind and spirit. Whereas Structural Integration is effective for improving the body's performance and relieving pain, Massage Therapy is wonderful for relaxing and releasing knots. A big reason most of us have so much stress in our lives is due to the common lifestyle of modern society. We are expected to work long hours, most of us with more than one job, worry about paying bills, stress about family and future security. When we live in such a go-go-go world we get stuck in a state of the nervous system that is very detrimental to be in for long periods of time. This is called the Sympathetic Nervous System, also known as Fight Or Flight mode. The opposite of this state of existence of called the Para-Sympathetic Nervous System. Both are vital to human existence, but there must be a balance of the two. When we are in Sympathetic mode hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine get released, which contracts our circulatory system, speeds up the heart and mind, stops digestion and grants energy, among other things. This is important when we are up and about, but as you can guess this is not a state we want to be in once we get home to relax. This is where the issue often arises though, because we get stuck in this mode, with racing thoughts, nervousness and irritability. This can lead to poor bowel movements, lack of sleep, depression, sickness... the list goes on and on. In contrast of this, when we are in Para Sympathetic mode we release hormones such as dopamine and serotonin which are vital to happiness and relaxation. Our thoughts slow, digestion starts back up, arteries and veins relax, sleep comes easily.
We want to be able to balance these two sides of our nervous systems, which is called homeostasis, but how to do so without dangerous narcotics? This is a big part of what Swedish Massage focuses on, helping bring us out of that cycle of stress. It also does wonders releasing tension in the muscles, regulating our circulatory and respiratory systems, moving lymph through the body, and aiding in the flushing out of toxins. Swedish Therapeutic Massage is one of the great reasons Massage Therapy is becoming so popular. It feels great, it relieves aches and pains, and balances the body, mind and spirit so we can live in harmony.
Massage Therapy: Deep Tissue Massage
Deep Tissue Massage may sound a bit daunting with the word "deep". Many people read this and think that deep = pain, and unfortunately if a Massage Therapist does not how much training then it will end up being painful. True Deep Tissue Massage should not be painful like this though, and it can be wonderful for relieving knots that otherwise would not release with Therapeutic Massage. Knots, known in the medical world as adhesions, are essentially scar tissue. They form over time from repetitive use, like bending forwards constantly to type on a laptop, or carrying a small child everywhere. From repetitive use or overuse of tissue, the tissue undergoes a change in the chemical structure and gets glued together. This causes a lack of mobility in muscle or fascia (connective tissue), and can lead to anywhere from slight achiness to severe pain (usually due to the adhesion putting pressure on a nerve). Deep Tissue Massage works to release adhesions, therefore relieving you of pain and aches. Deep Tissue Massage is less effective than Structural Integration in terms of releasing and re-aligning, but it also uses lotion and Massage movements like Massage Therapy, so it is a good middle way of the two styles of bodywork.
Reflexology is unique as it is on the feet and hands. The theory behind Reflexology is that we have special areas called reflex points on the feet and hands which correspond to the rest of the body. For example if someone has a headache, the big toe can be pressed to relieve them. One of the wonderful aspects of this practice is the fact that when a person has a condition where parts of their body cannot be touched (I.e. open sores on the torso) we can press specific reflex points on the feet to aid in the healing of that persons ailment. Most of us find Reflexology to be very relaxing, so it is a great way to improve overall health and get a foot rub at the same time. Reflexology is great for anyone who likes having their feet massaged, and can be extremely helpful in aiding overall health or specific health issues, especially if the areas which are affected are not able to be physically massaged due to open wounds or other contraindications to physical touch.
Healing Touch is a type of Energy Therapy, which is a relatively new practice in the western world. Energy Therapy is an ancient type of medicine, which utilizes the healing power of positive intention, coupled with techniques to aid in the free, healthy flow of an individuals energy. Although this kind of practice has been around for ages, it has only recently become more accepted by western medicine, for a few reasons. People have been skeptical of Energy Medicine because it works with forces many of us cannot see, taste, smell, hear or feel, and although it is possible to be trained to do so, there is no scientific test to truly study this energy. Since science cannot prove (or disprove) the existence of Energy Medicine many people remain understandably skeptical of its ability to heal or even exist. However, those of us who have experienced this wonderful form of healing first hand know it to be highly effective, and many have set out to study how effective Energy Medicine is at healing. Since we cannot measure this form of energy by itself, we can instead examine what it does for people, and those studies have been incredible.
Here is the theory behind why this works: on the surface, most things (you, me, the earth, plants, rocks, animals, etc.) appear solid. But if we go down to the atomic level, everything is energy. We are creatures of energy, and energy is everywhere, in everything. We can learn to tap into this force of nature just as we have learned to move our hands and feet, because we are energy. If someone is sad, or sick, so is their energy. So an energy practitioner- someone who practices Healing Touch, for example -can build up positive, healthy energy around and throughout the sick or sad person which helps them to get better. Now, this is not for everyone, as in my humble opinion it really helps to be open to the process. If we do not allow the healing energy in, it will impede the healing process. But if you feel like this is for you, I strongly encourage you to try this experience! At the very least it is incredibly relaxing, and people have reported strong sensations occurring, really aiding them in their healing process, be it physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. One of the great reasons people choose Healing Touch is because there is only very light pressure coupled with movements over the body, so if someone has a condition making physical contact difficult or massage impossible, Healing Touch is perfect. The patient also does not have to undress for this experience.